Tomorrow is election day in Cambridge. Don’t forget to vote! Like you, ABC cares about the future of our great city. We believe that policies adopted by the next City Council will determine the course of our city for years to come. Over the past few months we’ve endeavored to present information, data, and opinion consistent with our understanding of the opportunities and challenges that lie in front of us in the coming years. As part of that effort we conducted a survey and analysis of the many candidates for City Council, which we hope you will find useful as you make final decisions about which candidates to vote for tomorrow: ABC Candidate Ratings & Survey Whether you agree with us or not, we encourage everyone to exercise their constitutional right to vote! Polls are open tomorrow from 7am to 8pm. If you’re not sure where your polling places is, visit http://wheredoivotema.com to find out.
Earlier this week I sent you an important message about ABC’s city council candidates survey and the priorities/goals that drove our analysis and candidate ratings. We hope this information will be an important guide as you make your decision about whom to vote for this coming Tuesday, November 3rd. In addition to our candidate information, I wanted to direct you to another resource that has just been posted on the Cambridge Chronicle website. Barry Bluestone, a distinguished economist and researcher who knows more about the Greater Boston housing market than perhaps anyone in our region, has written an editorial that clearly explains why we face such a housing crunch in Cambridge and what we can do to address this reality. Dr. Bluestone's article has serious implications for Tuesday’s election. http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/article/20151030/NEWS/151039609 For years, Dr. Bluestone has been a leader in helping our region understand the serious challenges we face when it comes to providing an adequate supply of housing to meet the significant demand by families of all income levels. Since 2002 he has been the primary author of the yearly “Greater Boston Housing Report Card”, published by the Boston Foundation, which last year drew attention to a serious challenge facing all residents of our region, especially those living in poverty: people are paying a greater percentage of their income on housing — “a situation which must change if we are to give everyone a chance to succeed and thrive in our community” according to the Boston Foundation. Dr. Bluestone's letter represents his personal views, which, like ABC's candidate ratings, are provided for informational purposes. A Better Cambridge has not endorsed any candidates in this election. Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday. Need to know where your polling place is? Visit: http://wheredoivotema.com.
Election day is one week away. When you vote for the next city council on Tuesday, November 3rd, we hope you’ll use ABC’s candidate ratings and questionnaire as a guide. Our city is at a critical crossroads. Cambridge, with its many virtues, has become an increasingly attractive place to live. Coupled with our underproduction of housing for the last decade, this demand has also made Cambridge more attractive to developers seeking to maximize profit. This reality brings with it many challenges to the character of our city and to the diversity of our community. We believe this reality also provides an opportunity that can be leveraged to preserve our diversity and build a more vibrant city for all residents. In September, ABC hosted a public discussion with three experts in affordable housing and development to understand the challenges and opportunities facing Cambridge. The consensus was clear: Cambridge must add substantially to the current housing stock in order to meet demand and slow the precipitous increase in housing prices: We must be certain that this increase in housing produces as many affordable units, including middle income and family housing, as is economically feasible. With affordable units required by inclusionary zoning and subsidized by market rate rents, together with units produced by the city working with our housing nonprofits using city parking lots and increased linkage fees, we can make substantial inroads in providing affordable housing. Building more housing in areas with substantial public transportation, transportation that needs to grow as our region grows, close to large areas of employment will create transit oriented communities. These communities, where people can shop, work, play and live with the least amount of car usage, are the future of a sustainable Cambridge. Facing both a climate crisis and a housing crisis, the time for Cambridge to embrace this future is now. These are the issues that guide the ABC city council candidate questionnaire and ratings -- A higher rating demonstrates a candidate’s alignment with the ABC goals and priorities. With these issues in mind, we hope these ratings will be an important tool in your decision about who to vote for next Tuesday. These ratings are our best attempt at a fair assessment but there is always an element of subjectivity in ratings. Judge for yourself by reading full text of the candidates responses. If you find these ratings useful, we urge you to share with friends, family, neighbors and colleagues.
With the election approaching ABC encourages everyone to attend our City Council Candidates Forum hosted by WBUR’s Robin Young on Thursday, October 15th at 6:30 pm. The event takes place at the Broad Institute at 415 Main Street. DEVELOPMENT UPDATES A Better Cambridge released its City Council Candidate Ratings. The ratings are based on a comprehensive questionnaire distributed to all 23 candidates to measure their level of agreement with key ABC priorities and goals. Higher rated candidates demonstrate a strong understanding of the complex housing and development challenges facing Cambridge today. They are best prepared to make Cambridge a more affordable and livable city for all residents, especially low-income families. To view the ratings and the complete questionnaire click on the link below. ABC Candidate Ratings ABC hosted an affordable housing forum on September 26th, bringing together three statewide housing experts to discuss solutions to the housing crisis facing the region. A recap of the forum, along with a video of the event can be found here. Jesse Kanson-Benanav wrote an op-ed in the Cambridge Chronicle summarizing the event.Cambridge ChronicleThe City Council voted to triple the linkage fee to $12 a square foot for new commercial development with a $1 increase each year for the next three years. These fees help to preserve and create affordable housing in the city. Cambridge Chronicle According to new Census Bureau figures, the Greater Boston area has the second tightest rental market in the nation, with a vacancy rate of only 2.6%.Boston Globe UPCOMING EVENTS ABC is sponsoring a housing forum for the City Council candidates on Thursday, October 15th from 6:30 – 9:30 pm. The event will take place at the Broad Institute at 415 Main Street and will be moderated by Robin Young from WBUR’s Here and Now. The City Council election is Tuesday, November 3rd. Don’t forget to Vote. The deadline for voter registration is Wednesday, October 14th. You can register to vote here.City of Cambridge Don’t know where to vote? Visit wheredoivotema.com to find out.The City’s Broadband Task Force will be holding an interactive Community Input Forum to gather community insights on how broadband service in Cambridge can be improved Wednesday, October 14, from 6-8 p.m., at Cambridge City Hall, Sullivan Chamber, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. LINKS OF INTEREST There is No Such Thing As a City That Has Run Out of Room Boston Defies the Laws of Housing Physics For Renters, a Bleak Future This Woman Has a Plan to Fix San Francisco’s Affordable Housing Crisis – But Homeowners Won’t Like It DID YOU KNOW? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in Cambridge increased 40% in the last decade.
In an effort to help Cambridge voters make informed choices in the upcoming city council election, ABC is pleased to announce our 2015 city council candidate ratings. These ratings are based on a comprehensive questionnaire distributed to all 23 candidates to measure their level of agreement with key ABC priorities and goals. Higher rated candidates demonstrate a strong understanding of the complex housing and development challenges facing Cambridge today. They are best prepared to make Cambridge a more affordable and livable city for all residents, especially low-income families. With a total maximum score of 45 points, the ABC candidate ratings are: Leland Cheung 45 Marc McGovern 41 David Maher 40 Denise Simmons 40 Dennis Benzan 37 Craig Kelley 30 John Sanzone* 30 Tim Toomey 30 Mariko Davidson 29 Gregg Moree 16 Nadeem Mazen 13 Minka vanBeuzekom 12 Jan Devereux 8 Romaine Waite 3 James Williamson 2 Paul Mahoney 1 Mike Connolly -3 Kim Courtney -4 Gary Mello -5 Plinio Degoes -8 Click the image below to view a table summarizing details of the candidate ratings: Click the image below to view each candidate's full responses to our questionnaire, including ABC's analysis and a description of our methodology: Candidates not listed above did not respond to the ABC candidate survey. * As of October 26th, John Sanzone has withdrawn as a candidate for City Council. Continue reading
While Cambridge’s real estate market booms and population is expected to grow in the coming decade, low and middle-income families in our city still struggle with unaffordable and rising housing costs. How can we ensure that new development in Cambridge serves the housing needs of all families including those with lower incomes? How does this relate to other important development issues -- density, walking/biking/public transit, parking, and creating exciting, walkable neighborhoods? On Saturday, September 26th A Better Cambridge brought together experts to discuss what Cambridge can do to build a more diverse and affordable city for all families. Click here for a recap of the forum by ABC Chairman Jesse Kanson-Benanav. A full recording of the panel discussion is included below: The panel was moderated by Dante Ramos, Op-Ed Columnist for the Boston Globe. Panelists from left to right include: Andre Leroux, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance Aaron Gornstein, President/CEO of Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) & former Massachusetts Undersecretary for Housing & Community Development Ed Marchant, affordable housing development consultant and Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Materials used in the presentation include: PowerPoint presentation by Andre Leroux Development finance sheets used by Ed Marchant
You're Invited to a Community Forum: Housing that Cambridge can Afford At the Epicenter of Development & Demand While Cambridge’s real estate market booms and population is expected to grow in the coming decade, low and middle-income families in our city still struggle with unaffordable and rising housing costs. How can we ensure that new development in Cambridge serves the housing needs of all families including those with lower incomes? How does this relate to other important development issues - density, walking/biking/public transit, parking, and creating exciting, walkable neighborhoods? A Better Cambridge brings together experts to discuss what Cambridge can do to build a more diverse and affordable city for all families. Panelists include: Aaron GornsteinPresident/CEO, Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) Edward MarchantAffordable Housing Development Consultant and Adjunct Lecturer of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government Andre LerouxExecutive Director, Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance Moderator: Dante RamosBoston Globe Op-Ed Columnist Saturday, September 26th 3:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M. at the Citywide Senior Center 806 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge To RSVP visit: http://www.abettercambridge.org/housing_forum_2015 For questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As campaign season ramps up, there are numerous updates on long standing city initiatives. Below please find the September ABC Newsletter. DEVELOPMENT UPDATES The Planning Board approved preliminary plans from MIT for new development on surface parking lots around Kendall Square. In addition to lab and commercial space, there will be new graduate student housing.Cambridge Chronicle The city announced that it has selected Utile Architecture + Planning to run the citywide master plan project.Cambridge Chronicle The city is exploring a possible fee on real estate development in Kendall Square that would go toward public transit improvements.Boston Globe A 20-unit affordable housing development near Kendall Square funded by MassDevelopment will begin construction later this year.Boston Business Journal UPCOMING EVENTS On Saturday, September 26th from 3:00 – 5:00 pm, ABC will present a panel of housing experts for a discussion on affordability in Cambridge. The event will take place at the Citywide Senior Center at 806 Mass. Ave. ABC is sponsoring a housing forum for the City Council candidates on Thursday, October 15th from 6:30 – 9:30 pm. The event will take place at the Broad Institute at 415 Main Street and will be moderated by Robin Young from WBUR’s Here and Now. There will be no ABC general meeting in September. The city is conducting a charrette on homelessness from September 15th-18th.City of Cambridge PARKing Day, which will transform 60 parking spaces around the city will take place Friday, September 18th.City of Cambridge The 20th annual Danehy Park Family Day is on Saturday, September 19th. City of Cambridge LINKS OF INTEREST Boston’s Middle-Income Base Eroding Mass. Advocates Warn Of Loss Of Thousands Of Affordable Units The Way We Measure Affordability Is Broken DID YOU KNOW? According to a recent US Census report, automobile commuting in the Boston metro area decreased to 75.6% in 2013 from 78.9% in 2006. Only San Francisco reported a larger decline.
Summer is coming to an end which means a return to weekly Council meetings next month and the campaigns for City Council and School Committee ramping up. Below please find the August ABC newsletter. DEVELOPMENT UPDATES The City Council is set to increase linkage fees to $12 per square foot from $4.58 with an addition of $1 each year for the next three years. These fees which are paid by commercial developers help fund new and existing affordable housing within the city.Boston Globe A commercial and residential development proposal for part of Kendall Square near Broadway and Galilelo Galilei Way was released. The development would require zoning changes.Cambridge ChronicleBoston Business Journal MIT unveiled a $1.2 billion plan for the area immediately around the Kendall Square T stop. Plans include adding graduate student housing and construction could begin as early as next year.Boston Globe There are three firms applying to lead the citywide planning process that is expected to be completed in the next three years. It is likely the contract will be awarded sometime this month.Cambridge Chronicle There are officially 24 candidates for City Council and 11 candidates for School Committee. The election will be held on Tuesday, November 3rd.Cambridge Civic JournalCambridge Chroncile UPCOMING EVENTS The next A Better Cambridge general meeting will take place on Thursday, September 17th at 7 pm. Location TBD. CDD will be holding an informal drop-in conversation on the Volpe Center rezoning on Thursday, August 20th from 11 am to 2 pm at the Kendall Square Farmers Market (350 Kendall Street). There will also be a sit-down forum that was rescheduled from August 17th announced in the coming weeks. Community Development Department The city is accepting project ideas for the second round of participatory budgeting through August 31st.City of Cambridge LINKS OF INTEREST Many American Cities are Smaller Than They Used to Be, So Why Do They Feel So Full? Minneapolis Has a Surprisingly Simple Plan to Cut Traffic and Make Housing More Affordable What’s the Matter With the Planning Process? More Young Adults in Cities Are Giving Up on Driving to Work DID YOU KNOW? According to the American Public Transportation Survey, an individual in the Boston metro area that switches their commute to public transportation would save more than $14,000 a year.
July brings the announcements for candidates for City Council and School Committee. As of July 13th, 25 candidates for City Council and 12 School Committee candidates have filed papers. Below please find the July ABC Newsletter. DEVELOPMENT UPDATES The City Council and Planning Board held a joint meeting at the end of June to discuss zoning changes for the Volpe Center site in Kendall Square. This is a complex situation involving the federal government as well as private developers. Meetings will continue throughout the summer.Cambridge Chronicle The Boston Globe reported on rising prices for office space in Greater Boston. Commercial rents in Kendall Square are averaging above $70 per square foot. There was also a report on housing permits in Boston in the first half of 2015. Around 43% of the permitted 2,461 units fall into either the affordable housing category, for low-income residents, or will be priced as middle-class units.Boston Globe 07.07.15Boston Globe 07.08.15 People often ask A Better Cambridge to explain the affordable housing and development-related terms we regularly use. This guide, written by Matthew Yglesias, former Cantabrigian and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High: What To Do About It, And Why It Matters More Than You Think, provides a concise and useful primer on affordable housing, zoning, development, and more.Affordable Housing Explained UPCOMING EVENTS The next A Better Cambridge general meeting will take place on Wednesday, August 12th at 7 pm. Location TBD. The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code by adding a new chapter entitled Open Data Ordinance today, July 15th at 5:30 pm.City of Cambridge On Monday, July 27th at 5:30 pm, the three consultant teams selected to interview for the upcoming citywide planning process will present to the public on their teams and overall project approaches including answering questions.CDD The City's Broadband Task Force, charged developing options for cheaper and faster Internet in Cambridge will be meeting on Thursday, July 30th at 6 pm, in City Hall. Family movie screenings will be taking place at parks around the city on Wednesday nights through July and August.Screen on the Green LINKS OF INTEREST A Brief History of Boston’s Public Parks The Urban Housing Crunch Costs the U.S. Economy About $1.6 Trillion a Year Who Votes in Cambridge? Can Boston Become America’s Best BRT Town? DID YOU KNOW? According to 2013 Census Data, 13% of Cambridge households have no internet access at all.